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Euro championship pride for athlete Rory

TALENTED Ennis runner Rory Chesser is back working his two jobs in London this week, following his strong performance in the European Championship 1,500m in Barcelona.

TALENTED Ennis runner Rory Chesser is back working his two jobs in London this week, following his strong performance in the European Championship 1,500m in Barcelona.
And while nobody from Ennis Track Club or his family made it over to cheer him on for his race last Wednesday evening, there was plenty of support for him in his native town.
Michael O’Brien of Ennis Track Club said a group from the club got together to watch Rory, from the Gort Road, run.
“There was a group of us from the club watching his race and cheering him on. He came 10th in his race and there were 15 runners. His time was 3.44. We’re very proud of him. We were all roaring and shouting at the television during the race, if only he could have heard us,” Michael said.
Rory’s family and friends also gathered together in a neighbour’s house to watch him run.
“I knew that my family and neighbours were watching the race together in my neighbour’s house and my family phoned my right afterwards to congratulate me and see how I was doing. I imagined that they were watching in the lead-up to the race, that’s why I waved at the camera as it went by,” Rory remarked.
Mr O’Brien described Rory as a “very dedicated young man” who deserves to do well at everything he does.
“He works very hard and until this year has not received any grant from the Irish Sports Council. He goes to college and works at two jobs, so it’s not easy for him. He also trains 13 times a week.
He doesn’t have a dietician or nutritionist to advise him so he’s keeping himself informed on what he should be doing. And if he does use the services of a dietician, he has to pay for that himself.
Up to now he hasn’t had any grant assistance, apart from a small allocation for the Ennis Track,” he commented.
And he believes that there’s more success to come for Rory.
“He’s 23, so he’s young yet to be participating at European Championship level. He has a long running career ahead of him.
“Rory is the most successful athlete we’ve had yet and his performance in Barcelona was great encouragement for him and was a big stepping stone. It was also very encouraging for the club,” Mr O’Brien remarked.
He explained that for Rory to run in Barcelona, he had to run the 1,500m in 3 minutes 41seconds.
“That was an achievement in itself. It was fantastic that he ran in the European Championships but we’re still hoping for bigger and better things and we firmly believe he will be very successful.”
He added that when he returns to Ennis, the club will arrange a welcome-home party to celebrate with him and to show him how proud they are of him.
“Rory represented himself, his family, his club, Ennis, Clare and Ireland very well at the European Championships and he      is a great example to other young runners,” Mr O’Brien said.
Rory, back in London this Wednesday, said running in championships had been a great experience.
“Running in the European Championships was significantly bigger than anything I had done before.
“There were over 30,000 in the stadium for our race. I didn’t find it overwhelming. I was nervous but I managed to control my nerves. I have to be able to do that to make it even further as an athlete,” he commented.
He spent some of his time in Barcelona with Thomas Shanley from Tipperary, who was running in the other 1,500m semi-final.
“There were high expectations of him as he is ranked sixth in Europe but he didn’t qualify for the finals. He was slated by the pundits and he found it quite difficult to handle, so he was quite down after his race. He has since picked up. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of focus on you for such a big competition. There were less expectations of me, which meant that even though I didn’t qualify for the final, that I was still proud of my performance,” Rory remarked.
A group from Ennis Track went out to Barcelona on Thursday in the hope that Rory would make the final.
“I was disappointed for them. No pressure or anything but they reckoned I’d qualify so they’d come out for my bigger race. I didn’t mind that they weren’t there on Wednesday evening. There were a lot of Irish there anyway and I could hear them cheering for me, which was really encouraging. I was the only Irish runner in my race,” he said.
He said that it was amazing watching the finals, in particular, and seeing superb athletes crossing the finishing line. “I watched Derval O’Rourke and I was delighted she got her medal. She ran amazingly. Ireland needed a medal from these championships. I was also supporting Rob Heffernan, who came fourth twice in Barcelona.
“He has been very good to me and has given me great advice, including, to use my participation in the European Championships as a springboard, not to fade away into the background and to keep striving for what I want to achieve as an athlete,” Rory added.
He admitted that it is difficult to fund his participation in competitions and the travel it entails. “I don’t mind because I love running and want to compete at the highest level that I can. I work two jobs – in a sports shop in London and as an athletic coach. I have to raise a couple of thousand at least every year to fund my trips to competitions.
“Some days, it’s hard because between college and work, there’s very little free time left but I just get on with it because it is my choice to do this. I see my hard work as a long-term investment to help me get where I want to be,” Rory said.
As well as working two jobs, he is also training to be a primary school teacher in St Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, London and is due to qualify at the end of the year.
He also studied Sports Science in the University of Limerick, which led him to work as a PE teacher in the Educate Together School in Ennis and then into substitute teaching jobs in a number of Ennis primary schools.
“I found that I loved teaching and that was what I wanted to do.
“I will bring my athletic background into teaching with me and hope to instil the importance of participation in sports into the children I teach,” he added.


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